Chilling Out Re-inventing the library space As an oasis for students with anxiety

What the numbers say.

2015 Ontario Student Drug Use & Health Survey
More than 1 in 3 Ontario high school students report moderate to severe levels of psychological stress – that's over 328,000 kids.

-Ontario Student Drug Use & Health Survey (2015)

Top Anxiety-Inducing Factors in Students

For high school aged youth, academic, athletic, social, and personal challenges are considered domains of “good stress” (Selye, 1974), and optimal learning environments are designed to promote positive youth development in these arenas (Compass et al., 1993).
Yet there is growing awareness that many subgroups of youth experience levels of chronic stress that are so great that youths’ abilities to succeed academically are actually undermined, mental health functioning is compromised, and rates of risk behavior escalate (Hardy, 2003; Suldo et al., 2008; Conner et al., 2009).

What Does that mean?

Normative chronic stressors occur with more frequency and are more strongly related to maladaptive behaviours and mental health problems in young people than acute major life events (Kessler, 1997; Carter et al., 2006)

The Tech Connection.

1. Over-stimulated brains that results in poor executive functioning, which includes our (in)ability to pay attention, problem solve, control our impulses, and make decisions.

2. FOMO anxiety.

3. Sleep Deprivation (also a result of 1 & 2)

(Rosen, 2015)

Our Story: Garth Webb Secondary School

The Facts.

-Opened in 2010

-Located in Oakville, ON

-Currently 1215 students.

-Highly focussed, academic community

-Over 50 languages spoken by the school population.

Our Home: The GWSS Library Learning Commons

What Causes Stress for OUR Students?

*FOMO (phone dies)

*Not having reliable/correct tech

*Constant pressure from self/parents, difficult to calm down


How do we know?


*social worker

*student feedback

*parent feedback

Theme #1: Tech

Theme #2: Body

Standing Tables -or just sitting above the crowd!

Theme #3: Unplugged

"How do you work this?"
Okay, there are some plugs...
Location, location, location.
Student Faves.

So...Do They Use It?

Theme #4: Program

Therapy Dogs

St. John Ambulance Therapy Dogs, Oakville

Maker Projects

Zen Garden Building

Share Staff Wellness

Elementary School Connections

Theme #5: Culture

The library is a great place to relax. It's quiet, but not too quiet, you know? There's places to do your work, but also do relaxing stuff, like the unplugged toys.

-Anuja, Gr. 11 Student

The library solves a lot of problems, if your phone is dead, or you need help with something, or just need to take your mind off of school for a minute. It recharges phones and people!

-Anjali -Gr. 12 Student

Make student interactions a priority. Every day.

Yes, it is our job to help them figure out how to reload a Presto card. Checking out books and teaching APA is important, but so is this.

Make it happen.

Biggest Obstacles = People, time, and $

1. Start small. Look for opportunities.

2. Use your community: Ask staff and parents for donations.

3. Don't ignore non-traditional suppliers like Chapters, Elementary Catalogues, Learning Resources & PE catalogues

4. Partner with other departments for events (Student Services and Learning Resources are good ones)

5. Market your plan authentically and explicitly -these "toys" are beneficial to the students (and staff!)

6. Have rules. This is not a free-for-all. Base these guidelines on your student population.

7. Ask, observe, and listen to your students.

Expect your backroom/library office/storage room to look like this...

Now it's your turn.

1. Think about your school population. Identify 1 or 2 SPECIFIC things that you know create or add to student anxiety.

2. Write each item on a yellow sticky note and stick it to the walls around the room. Spread out!

Time Passes...

1. Take a walk around the room and add specific items/program ideas to help solve the anxiety issues posted. Write your ideas right on the sticky note, or add one right below!

2. Check out your original sticky notes and take a picture, or take them with you!

Questions? Contact Us:

Sandra Rogers, Teacher-Librarian

Jada Lewis, Teacher-Librarian

Jo Herchell, Library Technician



Created with images by frankh - "chairs chatting on the terrace" • andjohan - "ZEN" • cambodia4kidsorg - "Twitter Logo"

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